Pidol's Wonderland poses challenges to all

Bibsy M. Carballo - The Philippine Star

MANILA, Philippines - If initial response to the much-awaited Dolphy show on TV5 proved to be a little lukewarm, it was something to be expected. After all, Dolphy is the biggest fish the network has hooked and expectations are high. Nestor Torre has come out to state that the show doesn’t “feature him at his best, and relies too much on him to carry the program’s heavy load.” His other comments are echoed by similar ones coming from observers that the jokes are old, the cast is old, it does not successfully address the youth market, in other words, there is nothing new that Pidol’s Wonderland has to offer.

What is truer is that the oldies in the cast could be given new roles, rather than have them dishing out their tired jokes. After all, they still have it in them to deliver. These include the likes of Mar Lopez, a brilliant composer of songs, and comedian remembered for his most famous TV series Cafeteria Aroma in the late ’70s; Brod Pete, whom many recall from GMA’s Bubble Gang, later ABS’ Totally Outrageous Behavior. Long Mejia, who co-hosted Pinoy Bingo with Kris Aquino, was in Kool Ka Lang on GMA, with Willie Revillame in Masayang Tanghali Bayan, and handpicked by Dolphy for Home Along da Riber and later Home Along da Airport, winning plaudits from writers Ethel Ramos and Ed Sicam. Joy Viado is very much visible to this day.

Perci Intalan, head of Creative & Entertainment on TV5, admits that the hybrid show that combines a sitcom and a fantasy with a storyteller is an experimental one that would take sometime to gel. Right now, Perci observes, hindi pa rin tumatawid. There must be a link between the sitcom and the fantasy which is being corrected with Pidol doing more voice overs. But there are other concerns. Do they go alamat or more contemporary? Totoy Unggoy is contemporary. Juan Tamad and Ibong Adarna are classics. Perci stresses that they don’t want it didactic, too educational. It must be approached as entertainment where you learn moral lessons and about history, but primarily still entertainment.

The sitcom proper has Pidol operating a curio shop in downtown Manila with his sons Bart (Vandolph Quizon), Panyong (Epi Quizon), the real life daughter-in-law Jenny playing herself, and the cute granddaughter Baby VJ played by Elijah Alejo. Vandolph declares that before he got married to Jenny whom he met at the taping of Home Along Da Riles, he spent time enjoying himself with friends. Panay ang gimmick. He found himself wanting to be more with Jenny after they became an item and even more so when they got married.

He has changed completely, even lost 30 lbs from his 200 lbs, and looked good and healthy. When asked why he hadn’t seemed to move on with his career after the almost fatal accident where he lost his first girlfriend, Vandolph hopes he would soon be recognized by TV and movie producers for what he can do, even without help from his dad.

Epi appears to be in a better condition career-wise. While happy about the Pidol Wonderland role of a gay like that of his acclaimed and awarded movie Markova, he also shares having been part of an international movie entitled Pinoy Sunday co-produced by Mark Meily with an international creative team which should be shown all over the world soon.

Another Quizon, Eric called Kaizz for short, directs the show, flying in weekly from Hong Kong where he is based. Obviously, Kaizz is the most successful of the Quizon brothers. He directed GMA’s biggest and most expensive series, Asian Treasures with Robin Padilla and Angel Locsin. This series which dealt with Asian history was shot and shown in many Asian countries abroad and cost more than php140 million. After this, Kaizz appeared in Quizon Avenue with the brood until 2007. He then directed his dad’s movie Nobody Nobody But Juan last year.

Pidol’s Wonderland, like the many people in the cast and in production, is undergoing life-changing experiences. And as all of them trek the exciting task of getting out of their comfort zones, trying out new roles in a new network, the viewing public is similarly wishing them the best in the many weeks to come.

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